The Jericho Tavern, Oxford
13th February 2013
Kodaline were on the BBC Sound of 2013 longlist, but they’re not new; as 21 Demands, they came second in the Irish TV talent show You’re A Star in 2007, their single topping the Irish charts. They’ve progressed from jangly busker fare to – well, not something entirely original.
Tonight they launch with Lose Your Mind, with some quite pleasant Simon and Garfunkelish harmonies and a 70s psychedelic vibe, then Pray, which has an odour of wispy goth balladry in its reverb. From One Day I get the full force of Snow Patrol and rock week on The X Factor, and Counting Crows and Travis from Perfect World. By Love Like This, with its banjo, harmonica and touch of the Mumfords, I think I’ve got the measure of them.
Recycling for a new era: it’s nothing new, and it works. Shakin’ Stevens built a career on it. But the more it happens and the older I get, the more cynical I am about it – despite the good intentions of the musicians involved. Not that this lets Kodaline off the hook. They have swirls, builds, falsettos, anthemic aspirations, everything. But everyone places the fine line between beauty and dreary MOR rubbish in a different place, and that’s not just because of marketing.
It’s odd that we’ve already got to the point at which bands sound so heavily influenced by Coldplay; as generational shifts go, I can see where the dads who complained about Ocean Colour Scene in my youth were coming from.
The Matt Cardle-esque All I Want sums it all up: catchy but boring, epic but drab, influenced yet uninfluential.
If there were ever a young band created in a lab for the sole purpose of appearing on Later… with Jools Holland, or even just for those redemptive montages at the end of Holby City, it’s Kodaline: peddlers of the finest melancholic mediocrity.